One-to-One Life Mentorship program helps fight against childhood poverty

One-to-One Life Mentorship program helps fight against childhood poverty (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Fighting poverty can sometimes mean big dollar public programs, or it can sometimes mean small programs helping one family at a time.

“I became a convicted felon as a young adult. Sorry [begins to cry], which caused me to walk the road of closed doors and lost opportunities. Even with two college degrees I couldn't get a job,” said Rachel Smith.

Rachel Smith spoke to Mayor John Cranley's Child Poverty Collaborative on Tuesday afternoon in Mt. Auburn, lending her support to what's being called the “One-to-One Mentoring Program.”

The program consists of life coaches working with low income families, providing skills needed to escape poverty.

Rachel was helped by a program called “Block to Block” and now she'll give back as a mentor herself.

“Working in the schools, I see what the children face. I thought I knew poverty, but I grew up in northern Kentucky, graduated from Walton High School. Was not really in the inner city. Living in Price Hill, being in the schools I really learned what poverty was,” said Rachel.

The collaborative says Cincinnati has the sixth highest child poverty rate in the nation. On Tuesday, 28 social service agencies were announced as joining the mentorship program.

Representatives were given walking sticks, as in helping people to walk to a better life.

Cheriese Lindsey understands that. She once worked as a hotel maid, but was helped by an Urban League Program, and is now a successful construction project manager.

“I think the biggest thing for me is staying grounded and knowing I was better than my situation. There was nothing I did to deserve the situation I was in, so that meant I could work through it. But that also meant I had to step back and be honest with myself, how committed was I go getting out of poverty,” said Lindsey.

The mentorship goal is to work with 500 families the first year, helping them walk the long walk to a better life.

A couple of years ago, Mayor John Cranley announced the ambitious goal of getting 5,000 families, and 10,000 children out of poverty in five years.

The collaborative is an outgrowth of that and is working on several other programs besides what was outlined on Tuesday.

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